But what if they return, Sir?
They won’t. Not now that they’ve met what lives in Gotham
-Alfred Pennyworth/Bruce Wayne
Confession time. Okay, I admit it – you caught me. I stole this article from another website! But hey, I wrote it, and posted it there, so I am okay with it. I’ve asked myself how I feel about it, and truth be told, I don’t believe in stealing. I tried rewriting it, but it turns out the piece I wrote several years ago is better than the one I wrote this week. So let’s get into Batman vs Predator, one of my ALL time favourite Batman crossovers, and also one of my favourite comic books ever.
Batman versus Predator is a comic that some may dismiss because the idea seems silly. In actuality, it is a comic-book with extraordinary production values. It fits in well with both the Batman comics and Predator films, the sequels to this comic series are readable, but nowhere near as good. Batman vs. Predator is a comic I remember getting genuinely excited about when I discovered it in my local comic shop as a teenager, and saved up pocket money for a whole month to buy the collected edition.
To me this is an exciting comic book and it tells a story that could never work as well in any other medium. Batman versus Predator combines not only the worlds of two fictional characters but also crosses the mediums of film and sequential art.
If you get excited by the thought of Muhammad Ali versus George Foreman, Superman versus the Incredible Hulk, Bruce Lee versus Chuck Norris or Hulk Hogan versus The Rock, then you will understand why I must re-read this comic every year or so. Batman has featured in numerous comic-book crossovers during his reign. A few are worthy reads, such as the ones I’ve already mentioned in other posts such as Batman and Captain America, and Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk.
And of course Batman and Judge Dredd is probably the best crossover, (a post on that one soon) but the Predator one is my personal favourite. Most Batman crossovers are pointless and boring books. Some are just plain awful and more useful as bonfire fuel than reading material. Fortunately Batman versus Predator is one of the few worthy of your attention.
At night the shadows come alive in Gotham city. There’s a new threat in Gotham and you better not get in its way…
An invisible killer is on the loose in Gotham city. He’s slaughtering the good and not-so-good people of Gotham like there’s no tomorrow. This killer is more than your garden-variety loopy Batman villain and Jim Gordon is clueless what to do. So, when an alien hunter is running amuck in your hometown what do you do? You call Batman.
The Predator may be hell strong and vicious but he made one big mistake. He chose the wrong city to go hunting in. This city belongs to the Dark Knight, the self-appointed protector of Gotham.
You know, Bruce Wayne – that perfectly sane obsessive millionaire orphan who lives in a giant mansion and dresses up as a bat at night-time – that guy. Did I mention he’s also a survivalist, hand-to-hand combat expert and the world’s greatest detective? I think I mentioned that part. Which is important because when the predator leaves in its wake a trail of headless corpses strung up in leftover fishnet stockings all over the show, those detective skills will come in handy.
One of the great things about Batman versus Predator is that in addition to being a cool concept, it contains dirty artwork by Andy Kubert and a satisfying story by Dave Gibbons and an introduction by master Bat-scribe Denny O’ Neil. When I say dirty, the art is gritty and dark. The colouring is muddy with brown overtones that lend an a seedy old fashioned crime flick feel to the comic.
Seeing the usual gaudy superhero colours in this comic would have done neither character justice. Batman is drawn so that he looks suitably dark and scary. The pin-ups in the back of the collected by a who’s who of comic talent are just stunning, hence why I chucked three of them in this post to enjoy.
The Predator is dark, ugly and just plain frightening, as he deals out lashings of ultra-violence. He makes Batman look like a Boy Scout by comparison. The mafia goons who laughably shoot at the predator don’t last too long. Neither do the police, the predator cuts them up like a hot knife through butter.
The realism in this comic I really love. What if, Batman went hand-to-hand with a Predator? Realistically what would happen? Think about that for a moment before you read on. Ask yourself, are there martial arts / combat moves that will work on any opponent regardless of size or strength? Yes? Well, would those same moves work on a 400-pound Gorilla, or how about a squid, or the mighty Kraken?
The kind of Gorilla that could literally tear off one of your limbs at his leisure, then casually throws you away like a football using just one arm? Then ask yourself what could the dark knight do in an unarmed fight against a Predator, who would be stronger than that gorilla. The answer, not a damn thing!
The result is that Batman gets his ass handed to him and barely escapes with his life in this macabre tale. What is satisfying about seeing Batman beaten to a bloody pulp, almost helpless and teetering on unconsciousness – what is satisfying is that here is a challenge worthy of the unrelenting determination of the Batman, and it’s not some steroid freak conjured up for sensationalism, it is a primal beast from outer space who wants to wear Batman’s skull around its waist as a fashion accessory, for the fun of it, and it doesn’t care what or who it has to kill along the way. Batman is prey and nothing more, a dumb animal to be hunted for sport and leisure, at least that is what the Predator thinks. Big mistake, BIG mistake.
The predator alone is almost more than Batman can handle. But he has other problems. After investigating the string of murders by the “invisible slasher” he winds up bed-ridden temporarily blind with “deep puncture wounds, extensive lacerations, third degree burns and severe concussion.” The words of a doting Alfred. No matter how often he wrinkles his brow Alfred cannot keep Bruce Wayne in bed for long.
I won’t ruin the story by giving too much away. Let’s just say that not too many crime fighters could go up against the Predator and survive. Then go back to their day job of punching criminals square on the jaw while simultaneously keeping the Arkham Asylum loony bin in business. Let’s just say Batman is one tough bastard and leave it at that.
I first bought the Batman vs. Predator trade book when I was a teenager about two decades ago. I loved it then, and I still love it now, and re-read it frequently. But there is nothing quite like that first time.
I didn’t just read it. I DEVOURED it. I ingested it. It became part of me. I read it multiple times, sometimes fast, sometimes slowly – pausing to look at the stunning artwork and marveling at how gosh darn cool it was. Plus it was SUPER-violent, like the Predator movies, which I loved. Usually people didn’t get decapitated in a Batman comic, it felt very “adult” to me.
…a bloody battle of titans, a fun and ultra-violent mini epic on the grimy streets of Gotham
It was Batman and he was fighting the Predator! Damn, that is just so cool, it’s still the Batman movie I most want to see. Especially the part where he gets the thrashing of a lifetime and almost dies. He goes away, plans, strategises, then puts on a suit of custom Bat-armor and goes to kick the Predators ass. He nearly loses again, and in frustration grabs a baseball bat and starts wailing on the Predator, just bashing his brains in like Bobby De Niro as Al Capone in the The Untouchables. It was simple, brutal, disgusting and efficient. This high-tech animal-warrior from another planet, being beaten by a simple piece of wood and a man who just doesn’t have it in him to quit, no matter the odds.
If the Predator knew who it was facing, he would have never come to earth, there was no way he could possibly win. In pure physical strength, the Predator kills Batman in a nano-second. But in genius, planning, strategy and tracking skills, the Predator is totally outmatched by the Bat. But take away the planning, gadgets, tech and resources of Batman, and you just have a guy who never gives up, his will is so strong he WILL beat you no matter what you throw at him.
Batman has beaten Superman and Darkseid, what chance does the bloody Predator have? Damn outer-space fool, crawl away home!
Of course Batman beats the Predator, and Predators being a cowardly and superstitious lot, it kills itself Japanese style with a really big sword as more Predators arrive in a space ship. They recognise the Batman has honor, or something to that effect, then they bugger right off and take the cowards corpse with them. Then Batman gets a sleep and probably a foot rub from Alfred, or more likely stitches from his multiple wounds in the knock-down drag out slobber knocker of a battle that just took place.
It is no exaggeration to say that Batman goes through the wringer fighting the Predator, they fight multiple times throughout the four-part story collected in this trade, and it has to be up there for me with the epic battles like Undertaker vs Mankind in Hell in a Cell or Superman vs Doomsday in Death of Superman.
Rarely in the modern era do we get epic super-hero brawls, Jack Kirby did them best I think, and few people since capture that kind of dynamic explosive epic on paper. You know those fight like Thor vs Hulk or Thing vs some giant underground monster ten times his size the Moleman conjured up. The only guy who does it on a regular base in the modern era is Erik Larsen in his Savage Dragon comic, and he freely admits he does it because he loves the Kirby battles.
I don’t know why it is, but no matter how many times I read Batman vs Predator, it is just so damn satisfying. It should be as cheesy as Godzilla or Power Rangers or the craptacular Transformers movies that are ruining my childhood memories.
Batman vs. Predator is so obviously a marketing gimmick, the characters had no need to meet, being popular enough on their own. But man, I love epic battles. Whether it is Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris, Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, Superman vs. Doomsday, or Optimus Prime vs. Grimlock – there is just something so cool about the genuine spectacle when titans clash!
Batman vs. Predator is a very bloody comic-book. A bloody battle of titans, a fun and ultra-violent mini-epic on the grimy streets of Gotham. It’s an enthralling read from beginning to end. It emulates the best qualities of a Batman comic and a Predator film. I pity the fool who doesn’t get excited about that.